Originally created 04/03/00

Augusta airport plans showcase of high-end jets



Amid the hubbub of the Masters Tournament, traffic at Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field will be a relatively small, private parade of jet planes. The occupants will be mostly corporate executives in town for what will likely be their only time this year.

Air traffic at Augusta Regional triples during the first week of April each year, with the majority of travelers arriving on one of three commercial flights serving Augusta Regional: U.S. Airways Express, Delta Air Lines or Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a wholly owned Delta subsidiary.

But on the south end of the airport stretches a general-aviation runway, where privately chartered planes carrying high-ranking business executives, Augusta National members and even the golf players themselves take off and touch down.

And this year, for the first time, the area adjacent to the general-aviation runway will showcase several new-model jet planes, targeting the elite few who might consider investing between $6.5 million and $30 million in a new aircraft.

Four airplane manufacturers have made plans to display their products outside the private jet terminal at Augusta Regional from Thursday through Sunday. The trade show is being co-sponsored by Garrett Aviation and Morris Communications, the parent company of The Augusta Chronicle.

"There are thousands of people who are scheduled to land, and they're going to walk by these planes on their way to the terminal," said Bryan Mitchell, general manager of Augusta Magazine and coordinator of the trade show. "It's pretty common to have one of these at a large sporting event. They do it at Wimbledon and the Super Bowl, but this is the first time we'll have one in association with the Masters Tournament."

The planes slated to be showcased:

The Galaxy, made by Galaxy Aerospace

The Falcon 20 and Falcon 50, made by Honeywell Inc.

The Beechjet, made by Raytheon Aircraft Co.

The Challenger, made by Atlanta Jet Inc.

All the planes have international capabilities, which manufacturers say is something most corporate flyers are looking for, particularly in today's global marketplace.

"What we're seeing here at this airport is a transition to a larger, corporate-type aircraft," said Al McDill, Augusta Regional Airport manager. "Airplanes are part of the price of doing business today -- they're part of the efficiency of doing business."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.